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Rantz: Kshama Sawant, activists level vicious, baseless smear at Sound Transit

Kshama Sawant. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has accused Sound Transit of intentionally targeting students of color, low-income and homeless students for fare enforcement. It’s completely and utterly baseless, but fare enforcement officers are close enough to officers for cop-hating Sawant to level the smear. She has absolutely no shame and, at this point, leveling these accusations is muscle memory for her.

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The allegation comes after a local substitute teacher and activist Jesse Hagopian posted a photo on Twitter of a student interacting with a fare enforcement officer. The student (though her identity hasn’t been confirmed as far as I can tell) wasn’t ticketed nor is there any indication she was targeted because of her race.

In fact, Sound Transit said they didn’t ticket any students that day. They tried to dispel the budding controversy on Twitter, writing “To be clear – Sound Transit is not ticketing students on Link light rail today.” They went on to note that “No riders of any age are ever ticketed without getting a warning within the previous 12 months. But today we are not even issuing the formal warnings to students.”

Sound Transit spokeswoman Rachelle Cunningham confirmed to The Seattle Times that no tickets were given to students.

Hagopian took issue with one fare enforcement officer taking a photo of the student’s ID, claiming the “level of intimidation is uncalled for and harmful to our youth!”

Mayor Jenny Durkan, terrified of losing the progressive activist vote, quickly jumped on Twitter to proclaim: “Even without handing out tickets, warnings generate citations and contribute to a potential future fee for students. I am asking Sound Transit to expunge any warnings issued to students during this first week of school.”

But earlier in the day, Sound Transit has already responded by saying “Fare Enforcement Officers do routinely ask for and photograph identification as part of checking fares and tracking warnings.” And, according to Cunningham, the students weren’t issued warnings nor were their IDs entered into their database.

When Sawant found out about this controversy, she immediately jumped in, pouring gasoline on the flame, hoping she could exploit it for personal gain. She quickly accused Sound Transit of purposefully targeting “students of color, low-income and/or homeless students for fare enforcement” without showing any proof of even more than one student interacting with a fare enforcement officer.

Even more disturbing, it doesn’t appear her office even contacted Sound Transit before leveling this vicious smear against them. Indeed, about two hours before Sawant’s tweet, Sound Transit had already posted several statements on their Twitter account to address the misinformation.

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But Sawant doesn’t care about facts. She was ready to throw red meat to her professionally aggrieved followers to do what they do best: cause chaos and lie. She might believe what she’s doing is good for the city, but anyone who ever told her she’s a positive force here is either lying or just wrong.

Sound Transit has a lot of faults and they do a lot of things badly. Like, seriously, a lot of things. But to claim they’re part of some racist conspiracy to purposefully “target” students of color? That’s unreasonable. And if Twitter is any indication, Sawant has a lot of unreasonable fans.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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